Thursday, December 24, 2009

One of my favorite things: Gingerbread Men

I love everything about gingerbread. I love mixing it, rolling it, and cookie-cutting it. I love baking it, cooling it, and eating it. But most of all, I love decorating it. Frosting cookies is one of my tip top favorite things ever. I love the actual frosting process (especially when you do it with people you love) and I love how the cookies look in the end. So making these cookies is like a Christmas present to myself.

They are very easy to make.

Start with your dry ingredients.
Then beat your butter and sugar.
Add in your egg and molasses, and beat that up.
Gradually add in the flour.
(did I mention I love this Kitchenaid Stand Mixer?)

And you will eventually have your dough.
Now, you are going to divide the dough in half, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it for at least 2 hours. I found that if you make the dough smooth at this point, it will prevent cracking when you roll it out.
Once it is sufficiently chilled, get excited... it is time to roll the dough out.
Grab the cookie cutters of your choice (gingerbread men, gingerbread ladies, and Christmas trees), and start cutting!
Remove the cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake until just brown around the edges. I prefer a softer gingerbread cookie, so I try to bake it until just lightly browning around the edges. And don't forget, the cookies will continue to bake after you take them out of the oven, so don't let them go too long.
While I very much enjoy gingerbread on its own with a glass of milk, as I mentioned, icing gingerbread is something I adore. So, for the icing, sift your confectioners' sugar.
Then whip up butter.
Add in vanilla.
And gradually add your powdered sugar, at low speed. Warning: if you do this at high speed, it will be like a powdered sugar bomb went off all over you. Go slow and low to avoid this.
Add in milk. Beat at high speed until the icing is gorgeous and fluffy.
Now time for some color!!! I went with red, green, blue, and orange this year (for Christmas and the Broncos, of course!).
It is easy to get colored frosting, you just add dots of color until it is the color you want.

You can ice with an offset spatula or a knife. Just get your gingerbread and bowls lined up.
However, if you want to pipe the frosting on and you do not have an icing bag, never fear! You can make your own. Grab a ziplock bag, and make a tiny snip on one of the corners. The smaller, the better.
Squeeze the frosting into that corner, and voila! a piping bag.
How fun, right?
At this point, let your creativity take over... and have fun! I know my mom and I did.
And with this... the Bicoastal Chefs would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday!

May all these days be filled with more than a few of your favorite things!

Gingerbread Men (from
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
Note: to prevent molasses from sticking to the measuring cup, first spray the cup with non-stick vegetable spray

For frosting:
2 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
Assorted food coloring

In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well incorporated. Gradually add flour mixture beating until incorporated.

Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or over night.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside while you roll out the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Use a gingerbread cutter to cut out the cookies. With an offset spatula lift the cut out cookies onto the baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute. When they are firm enough to move, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

If desired, you can press raisins, currants, or candies into the dough for eyes and buttons while the cookies are still warm. Otherwise, confectioner's frosting can be used.

For the frosting: With a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beater. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little more milk if too dry.

If desired, divide into bowls and add food coloring. To make your own pastry bag, get a ziplock bag and snip the corner. The tinier the snip, the better. Add the frosting, and you have a homemade pastry bag.

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